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Planned Parenthood Scandal: Do You Care More about the Facts or the Truth?

October 17, 2017

By: James Gottry


The Editorial Board of The New York Times recently published a piece regarding Planned Parenthood. The Board lambasted the recent undercover videos about Planned Parenthood (here, here, here, and here). 


The criticism focused on the Center for Medical Progress’s claim that the world's abortion provider profits from its sale of "fetal tissue." The Board went on to praise fetal tissue research generally, and decried efforts to "put[] women's health and their constitutionally protected rights at risk."

I came across the editorial through Facebook, when a friend from law school posted a link to it, along with the comment that “People don't seem to care too much about facts these days."   The not-so-subtle point was that those attacking Planned Parenthood are more concerned with promoting a specific outcome (defunding Planned Parenthood) than ensuring accurate facts.

First of all, let's be honest about the motivation of both sides. Reasonable people will agree that pro-life advocates are absolutely motivated by a desire to end abortion, and ending public funding for Planned Parenthood (to the tune of $500+ million a year) would be a good step in that direction. Reasonable people will also agree that pro-abortion advocates are absolutely motivated by a desire to preserve abortion, and public funding for Planned Parenthood is an important piece of that goal.

Second, my friend has a point—people don't seem to care much about facts, or at the very least, not the facts that truly matter… and not the truth.  And unfortunately, this applies to both sides of the debate. 


"The truth is more important than the facts."

Frank Lloyd Wright


When the first Planned Parenthood video was released, some pro-life advocates demonstrated a laser-like focus on the contention that the video unequivocally showed that Planned Parenthood is making a profit on its sale of tiny livers, intact hearts, lungs, and other body parts (otherwise known as "fetal tissue").  Pro-abortion advocates responded that Planned Parenthood was only interested in reimbursement for the costs associated with harvesting organs.  At the same time, Planned Parenthood turned the microscope on the video producers, with its CEO Cecile Richards stating that "the most disgusting part of this, to me, is that these folks gain access to clinics." 

Now the debate rages on, fueled by subsequent videos, including one in which a Planned Parenthood vice president discusses the merits of a “per-item” price for body parts, rather than a flat charge.

I’m not saying these aren’t legitimate topics for investigation.  And I’m not saying the facts don’t matter.  But I am saying this shouldn’t be the focus of the national conversation.  As stomach-turning as this entire conversation is, I am confident Planned Parenthood and its defenders are more than happy to focus the conversation on whether $30-100 per "part" is sufficient to turn a profit, because it diverts the attention away from the incontrovertible truth:

As a culture, we embrace a reality where Planned Parenthood operates a publicly-funded “chop shop” for baby parts.

The reality is:

  • There is no reasonable debate as to whether an abortion ends the life of a child in the womb.
  • There is no debate as to whether Planned Parenthood is removing intact organs (including heart, liver and lungs) from the lifeless bodies of dead children.
  • The only debate is whether Planned Parenthood is making a profit or just charging a “reasonable fee” to cover its costs.


Did anyone see the forest, because all I can find are all these trees . . .



Sure, we can argue about whether Planned Parenthood is complying with the letter of the law.  Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood, said it best: “laws are up to interpretation.”


We can argue about research and “tissue” and organs and “reasonable fees.” These are just facts, and as author Chuck Palahniuk has noted, “[y]ou can spend your whole life building a wall of facts between you and anything real.”

Or we can face the truth—the truth that when a woman walks into Planned Parenthood to have an abortion, two lives enter the building.  And when she leaves, one life has ended, and the other life will never be the same.


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